Big surprise: Replacement battery sellers don’t like Apple MacBook Air’s built-in battery

“Apple’s decision to give its ultra-thin MacBook Air notebook computer a battery that users can’t replace themselves bucks a growing trend, and some say could hurt its sales. With more and more PC buyers choosing notebooks over desktops, many want the option of carrying a spare battery or adding a high-capacity battery to get more hours of use,” Patrick Seitz reports for Investor’s Business Daily.

“‘Some users want more control over their notebook and there’s no doubt that not having a user-replaceable battery will not appeal to those people,’ said Todd Rapparport, vice president of marketing for FreshBattery. Irvine, Calif.-based FreshBattery sells replacement and spare notebook computer batteries online,” Seitz reports.

“Apple’s move to batteries that users can’t replace themselves likely will worry many consumers, says Mark Fleig, director of marketing for Batteries.com. Apple’s iPhone smart phones also have batteries that users can’t replace themselves,” Seitz reports.

“Apple says it used an integrated battery in the MacBook Air in order to make the product thin and stylish,” Seitz reports. “Apple has been offering spare and replacement notebook batteries for a long time but found that few people were buying them, a company spokesman said.”

“People are more likely to carry their notebook’s power adapter than a spare battery, he says. Many airlines are adding power outlets on their planes, eliminating the need for a spare battery on long flights, he says,” Seitz reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This is more than a bit like interviewing buggy whip makers about the debut of the automobile. Now, there are aftermarket battery makers – BatteryGeek.net, for example – that don’t waste time whining, moaning, and generating FUD, but instead make external battery packs for Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Pro that plug into the MagSafe connector and offer up to up to 20+ hours of additional runtime per charge (BatteryGeek.net also offers iPhone and iPhone external battery packs, BTW). One would assume that the wait will not be long for MacBook Air-compatible external battery packs for those who need a spare battery. Of course, then you’re carrying around another battery, so perhaps you’re more of a MacBook or MacBook Pro user anyway.

There are no special tools or knowledge required to swap out the MacBook Air’s battery. Just a Philips screwdriver and about 3-minutes. The Air’s battery can be unplugged from the circuit board with a simple tug (it’s not soldered to the board). We think odds are high that third-party, user-replaceable batteries will be available for MacBook Air before the first Air batteries begin to run down.

Other items of interest — or what we like to call “Whiner Silencers” — that Apple already offers for MacBook Air:
MagSafe Airline Adapter: $49. Just plug it into your airline seat power port and keep your MacBook Air powered up for the entire flight.
Ethernet Adapter: $29. Connects to the USB 2.0 port of your MacBook Air and provides an RJ-45 connector that supports 10/100BASE-T performance.
Modem: $49. Connects to the USB port on your MacBook Air.
MacBook Air SuperDrive: $99: Compact external MacBook Air SuperDrive connects to your MacBook Air via USB and fits easily into a travel bag. Read and write CDs and DVDs, including double-layer DVDs.

Other things MacBook Air road warriors might consider (besides canceling their chiropractic appointments): USB EVDO Modem for wireless broadband, USB Travel Hub for multiple devices, and other such items.

29 Comments

  1. Now, there are aftermarket battery makers – BatteryGeek.net, for example – that don’t waste time whining, moaning, and generating FUD, but instead make external battery packs for Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Pro that plug into the MagSafe connector and offer up to up to 20+ hours of additional runtime per charge

    Absolutely. If you were willing to take a spare internal battery along, you can take one of these instead. Quit whining, indeed, and that applies to users as well. The state of the (battery) art is what it is. As a Scottish engineer of my acquaintance used to say, “Ye canna change the laws of physics”.

  2. @Mister Snitch

    “…As a Scottish engineer of my acquaintance used to say, ‘Ye canna change the laws of physics’ …”

    Yeah well, the Vulcan Sience Ministry has determined that Time Travel is impossible also, but we all know THAT’S not true!

  3. Just to play devil’s advocate, could it be that Apple didn’t sell many spare batteries because they could be had for a decent amount less from other sources? I have a spare battery for my PowerBook, bought from a third party for about 2/3 the cost of a battery from Apple (and longer lasting, as well), and it get’s used at least once a month (long blocks of meetings, for example, where it’s inconvenient to bring cables and a power adapter along). I’ve also had times where I’ve had to swap the battery while on the train, as the train was delayed and I ran the battery down. And no, at least on the commuter train I take, there are no power outlets available. As for flying, my experience *is* somewhat limited, but I was not impressed. I specifically asked for a seat with an outlet when I made the reservations, ended up having to switch seats when we checked in, as they had moved us for some reason. On top of that, since my wife brought her laptop as well, we ended up having to switch back and forth as to who got to use the power outlet since there was only a single outlet. It was a longish flight- over 10 hours- and while we didn’t have the laptops going the whole time, they were on for a decent portion of it. Until power outlets are standard (I’m assuming they’re not already- the flight I mentioned was a couple of years ago), having an extra battery could still be very useful for airline travelers.

  4. Could it be that the lack of a replaceable battery has something to do with the physical integrity of the computer itself? How about the physical integrity of the battery?

    All of the replaceable batteries that I have seen have required substantial cases for the battery and for the hole into which you put the battery. Both of these additions would likely have increased the size and weight of the Macbook Air.

    In addition, I would imagine replacing the single sheet of metal that makes up the bottom of the machine with a more complicated piece of metal with a cutout for the battery insert would have significantly reduced the rigidity of the machine. One of the frequent comments by users is how solid the machine feels when they are typing on it.

  5. Considering a Macbooks battery is lucky to last 6 months before it no longer holds it’s charge long enough to watch a DVD anyway, why don’t they make external batteries? Ones that look just like an external hard drive and plugs into the power socket. Unless you use your laptop under a tree or at coffe shops most of us have them plugged into mains power anyway. An external plug in battery wouldn’t be that much of an issue, the machine could be made smaller for starters.

  6. “Considering a Macbooks battery is lucky to last 6 months before it no longer holds it’s charge”

    based on what?

    3 laptops from Apple in my house hold over the years, and the battery in every single one was doing well until the 20-30 month mark. hard to believe they have gone that far down hill that fast.

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